In addition to paying higher water bills, Tucumcari residential and commercial customers will soon be paying higher rates for garbage pick-up and sewer service.
City Manager Richard Primrose said it was unfortunate, but necessary to raise the rates in order for the city to balance its budget. “With the rate increases, the city might be able to break even with regard to the budget,” said Primrose. “We are not the only municipality that is having to raise utility rates.” Primrose said he and City Finance Director Marty Garcia met with the city commission on a number of occasions to work out the rate increases. ”We had budget work sessions with the city commission,” he said. We’ve been discussing the rate increases for some time. We’ve already employed other options such as reducing the number of our utility workers. I understand the hardship some residents may face, but we had no other choice but to raise the rates.”
Currently, more than 2,300 residential customers pay for curbside garbage pick-up. Those customers will pay one dollar more per month for that service according to the city’s utility billing clerk, Florence Quintana. “The previous rate was $10.53 a month,” she said. “With the utility bill customers receive at the end of August, the new rate will be $11.53 per month.” Quintana said that Tucumcari’s approximately 520 commercial customers will pay an extra two dollars per month for use of shared garbage bins and customers using non-shared bins will also be paying two dollars extra per month. “The new rate for shared commercial bins will be $31.64 per month and the new rate for non-shared bins will be $61.28 per month.,” she said.
Sewer service will be costing slightly more as well.
Residential rates for sewer service will rise one dollar for base hook-up and about 17 cents extra per 1,000 gallons volume usage. Commercial customers will be paying two dollars more for base hook-up and about 17 cents extra per 1,000 gallon volume usage. Primrose said when the rate increases were proposed they were advertised to the public.
“We advertised the new ordinace concerning the rate hikes,” said Primrose. “We heard no public opposition to the rate increases, none whatsoever.” City Commissioner Chris Maestas said he and fellow commissioner Antonio Apodaca voted against the utility rate hikes but were outvoted 3-2 by commissioners Betty Ditto and Jim Witcher and Mayor Mary Mayfield. “My argument against the rate hikes was simply that there are a lot of poor people in Tucumcari,” said Maestas. “Three dollars a month or so extra doesn’t seem like a lot of money to many people, but to someone on a fixed income it is a significant amount. I believe the city commission could have explored other options further.”
Primrose said city workers use two trucks to pick up more than 30 tons of trash per month, five days per week and even on holidays.